Two years straight Franklin Elementary School has won the Developmental Disability Awareness Bulletin Board Student Contest for the elementary category for Developmental Disability Awareness Month sponsored by the Arc of New Jersey.
Gail LaCosta, guidance counselor and Alyssa Maksymiv (pictured right), special education teacher at the school attended a recognition event at the State House in Trenton on Monday, March 6th to formally accept the award for first place in the elementary field.
Third and fourth-grade students at Franklin were invited to design a bulletin board and/or video that illustrates the students’ acceptance of all people with this year’s theme of “It Matters to Me”.
LaCosta said, “Students were inspired to create the bulletin board because the inclusion of students with all disabilities is very important to ALL of us at Franklin School.”
Franklin has several special education classes and the students and staff do their best to make sure all of the students are included. Students in these programs are included in the general education classroom several times throughout the day.
“We believe that learning about different disabilities, spreading awareness and acceptance is a HUGE part for having a fun and safe school for everyone,” shared LaCosta.
All eight classes were given their own developmental disability to discuss and learn about as part of this bulletin board contest. Each class then decorated a balloon with that disability for the bulletin board. The theme was incorporated by using a celebration theme.
“When asking students about ideas for showing something that matters, they expressed that when things matter we celebrate them. Birthdays matter, so we have parties. Holidays matter, so we have parties. When our football team wins, we celebrate. From there we brainstormed ideas and the students and staff came up with the idea of celebrating what students with disabilities CAN do, so we camouflaged the DIS in disabilities. So that at a quick glance our bulletin board says we celebrate abilities”, explained LaCosta.
National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is an opportunity to promote respect for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and to educate others on the spectrum about the abilities people with I/DD possess.